Category: Teen

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe (9781484763803)

Julian just wants to get through high school without attracting anyone’s attention. He has a secret spot to hide during lunch where he feels safe, something he never feels anywhere else even at home. Julian’s parents died when he was a child and now he lives with his last remaining relative, an uncle by marriage. Adam is a popular kid in high school, bouncing with energy from his ADHD and full of smiles to brighten everyone’s day. When Adam is sent to find a freshman who is missing his sessions with the school counselor, he is surprised to discover it is Julian, who had once been his foster brother. But as the two get closer, it is clear that something awful is happening to Julian, something that may be too big for them to handle.

This teen novel is about grief, loss and pain. It’s about possibilities lost, other lives dashed. It’s gut-wrenching and powerful and devastating. And yet, it is also brimming with hope, with a gritty potential for change that just won’t stop, with the power of friendship and the deep abiding love of brotherhood. It’s complicated and not easy in any way. It’s wonderful.

The writing by Roe makes everything powerful and dense with meaning. Here is how she has Adam describe Julian on Page 170 of the book:

I used to think struggle was what aged you, but if that were the case, Julian should’ve been a hundred years old. Now I wonder if the opposite is true. Maybe instead of accelerating your age, pain won’t let you grow.

The characters here are brilliantly juxtaposed. She does not turn to the trope of the well-off teen being a bully or a jerk. Instead, Adam is a bright spot for everyone until he faces something he can’t deal with. It’s such a mix of tragedy, hope and fear. One that Roe has written with depth and care.

A stunning debut novel that is deeply moving and wondrously hopeful. Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

10 Great Teen Books about Love

Valentines Day is a great day to think about wonderful reads all about romance and love. Here are some books for teens that balance the sweet with the sour just right. Pucker up!

Eleanor & Park Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1) If You Could Be Mine

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) The Sun Is Also a Star

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Two Boys Kissing The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

Wildlife (Six Impossible Things/Wildlife #2) The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)

Wildlife by Fiona Wood

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

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We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Released February 14, 2017.

Marin left her entire old life behind, arriving at college in New York two weeks ahead of schedule and with almost nothing with her. She tried to leave that life behind and start anew, but now her best friend Mabel is coming to see her. The best friend that Marin hasn’t spoken to in months, the best friend she hasn’t texted or called. Left alone in the deserted dorm as winter break arrives, Marin can only wait for Mabel to arrive. When she does, they are awkward together and the story of their relationship slowly reveals itself. Along the way, Marin’s unique relationship with her grandfather also emerges. Now it is up to Marin to face everything she has run from for the first time.

I knew on the very first page that this was a book that would consume me. LaCour writes with a precision and yet a naturalness that disarms and embraces the reader. She is delicate at times, allowing the reader to explore and learn. At other points she is direct, pointing out pain, tenderness and loss with care. The tone is uniquely hers, a voice that is beautiful to read, filled with poignancy, hesitation and wonder all the while it fights depression and despair.

This is a novel of hope, a novel that shows how difficult it can be to face loss and betrayal. It is a book that speaks of the power of bridging those gaps in our lives, of finding a person we love once again and allowing them back into our lives. It’s a story of slowly opening that door, the door to humanity and joy that had seemed locked forever. It’s a story of transformation that is simple and yet profound.

One of the best young adult books on loss and grief that I have ever read, this one will find a place in your heart. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dutton Books for Young Readers.

 

The Time Museum by Matthew Loux

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The Time Museum by Matthew Loux

Released February 21, 2017.

Delia thinks she is just heading to her uncle’s house for the summer, but instead finds herself competing for an internship at the Time Museum, a museum that contains items from across human history. There are other teens competing against her, including a girl from future Japan who loves robots, a boy from ancient Rome, and a boy from the far past. While the internship at first seems to focus on physical fitness and school work, quickly the missions become real time travel. Each mission judges the interns individually as competitors, but they quickly learn that they need to work together to survive traveling through time!

Loux is the author of several award-winning graphic novels. In this latest work, he has created a world where history and the future mingle. Time travel wristbands, magical stones, and body-free brains all appear on the pages, each more wonderful than the last. It’s a setting where you are never sure what the next adventure will contain and that makes it immensely appealing.

Loux’s art adds to that appeal. His characters are vibrant and charming. Even the villainous character is complicated and has a clear history with others in the story. Delia herself is perhaps the most straight-forward character which makes the book an exploration of those around her even as Delia discovers her own bravery and ingenuity on the page.

Clearly the first in a series, this graphic novel has mass appeal and plenty of smarts. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.

 

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary has served six years for killing a baby when she was nine years old. Now she is living in a group home with other teen girls, including ones who want to hurt her. Mary doesn’t talk much and didn’t speak for months after the baby’s death. Now though, Mary has something to speak up for and fight for. She has an older boyfriend who works at the nursing home where Mary is assigned. She also has their unborn child. Mary is smart and loves to read. She sets her mind on going to college and completing SATs. However, there are a lot of hurdles and barriers in her way from the system itself to just getting an ID. As Mary starts to fight back she will have to take on her mother, the person whose testimony got her locked up in the first place.

This is one incredible debut novel. It takes a dark and unflinching look at how our society treats young offenders and the bleak lives that are left to them. It also speaks to the horror of a baby being killed and the effect that race, where a black girl is accused of killing a white baby, has on the system. The writing is outstanding, allowing the desperation to seep into the pages and the darkness to simply stand, stark and true.

Mary is an amazing protagonist. Readers will relate to her as her intelligence shines on the page despite the grime surrounding her. As she begins to build hope and a new life around herself, readers will feel their own hopes soar and warmth creep in. Mary though is not a simple character, a girl wronged. She is her own person, messing up in her own ways and speaking her own truth.

Complex and riveting, this debut novel is one that is dazzling, deep and dark. Appropriate for ages 16-18.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books.